Thursday, June 17, 2021

Love Letters to My Life #36: Denim Carpet to My Wild Twin

My cooling-feet, sunset-watching spot.
by Joyce Wycoff

(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my Death Day: the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.) 

75 seems like an odd age to start taking my life seriously. Perhaps because this is the 36th monthly love letter I’ve written to myself or because I can feel the sun lowering toward the horizon on this one wild and precious life, I know it is time … time to do the things I truly want to do, time to be the person I truly want to be. 

So what does that mean? Three questions in one. 

What does it mean to take life seriously? 

What do I truly want to do with the rest of my life? 

Who do I truly want to be? 

Definitely a denim carpet question … which deserves some backstory. 

Every week for the past ten years, with few exceptions, my friend Pat and I have had phone conversations which wandered without direction from dinner recipes to the state of our souls. Recently, for some unremembered reason, Pat said “denim carpet” … a twisting of carpe diem, the popular call to seize the day.  

That silly phrase tickled my funny bone and lodged itself in memory until I began this love letter and it popped to the surface and seemed to be the absolutely perfect phrase. I want to seriously seize the day … but with a grin. Denim carpet!

Another thread to this tangled tale comes from a wild man, a myth teller, a mystic, a weaver of enchanted language. Martin Shaw, where have you been all my life? 

Shaw’s book Courting the Wild Twin popped onto my Kindle store front and intrigued me enough to save the sample for later.  Samples seldom turn into sales, but this one hooked me on the first cast. Shaw’s language snipped the sinews binding me to the rational world and left me swirling through clouds of mythical images. One example comes from a way Shaw describes a character in a story:

"Hawk-nosed, thistle-haired, spark-eyed, yolk-fat with cobra-knowledge, pockets a-clatter with magics, brown fingers dragging rooster blood from the heart of the moon."

According to Shaw, "there is an old legend that says we each have a wild, curious twin that was thrown out the window the night we were born, taking much of our vitality with them."

He invites us "to seek out our wild twin––a metaphor for the part of ourselves that we generally shun or ignore to conform to societal norms––to invite them back into our consciousness, for they have something important to tell us."

 I hadn't read far before my wild twin jabbed me in the ribs and said … I WANT THAT!

In one of the myths that Shaw tells, a barren woman is given advice by an old woman (there’s always a wise old woman in these ancient tales). The old one says: “walk to the north-west part of the garden and, as you go, speak everything you wish to see arise.” 

Because this is a fairy tale, all that she spoke came to pass (with, some unexpected twists since this is, after all, a myth.)

It struck me that we aren’t adept at speaking what we want. We’re taught to live in the real world rather than a world that brings us what we want just because we speak it. How are we supposed to know, though, what we truly want if we don’t speak it? And, how does the world around us know what we want if we don’t say it out loud? That, of course, doesn’t mean that we will always like what arrives, even when it’s exactly what we thought we wanted.

The wild twin knows what she wants

and speaks it out loud.

Shaw says the wisdom of the old ones is available to all of us if we convince them that we’re serious. We do that through fidelity, by continuing to show up for what we are passionate about. Fidelity is a sign post of seriousness. Which made me wonder: to what have I shown fidelity?

One answer came immediately. While I tend to be prone to many enthusiasms and shifting whims of focus, I have been faithful for many years to my creative life of art and writing. In spite of not being showered by much interest or financial rewards from the outside world, I have created a steady stream of art and words documenting my personal exploration of the world’s beauty. 

Because I've taken this part of my life seriously,  the ancients may giving me a nod.

Shortly after arriving here at Lake Almanor, while looking for a guest artist for the next volume of The Granary Tree, I went into a rather remarkable local co-op art gallery … the Blue Goose. In the process of talking about which artist might fit, I showed the gallery owner a copy of The Granary Tree and Corona Wisdom. One thing led to another and I was invited to join the gallery. Delightedly, I accepted.

For the first time in several years, I once again have a gallery home. I’ve been in other galleries; however, this time, I’ve matured enough in my life as an artist that I actually feel like I belong. Something of that “imposter syndrome” seems to have dropped away. Regardless of how I’ve gotten here, I now consider myself an artist … seriously.

Maybe I’ve merged, just a bit, with my wild twin. She brought me this advice to share with you:

Take your life seriously.
It’s the only life you have.
You are the only you YOU have.
You are the only you the world has.
You came here to be someone special.
You came here to do something specific.
Do it.
Give yourself the gift of being YOU.

Denim carpet all the way down!


  1. I read your words and see me in them - just not as artistically talented as you, my friend. I was so lucky to find you in a gallery all those years ago, perhaps some other stranger will walk into the Blue Goose one day and find you, your art and your open heart waiting to befriend them.

  2. That was an amazing and memorable day with your open air jeep and tales of wandering across country. So glad we've stayed connected.